Report: Top FIFA deputy tied to bribery case, cancels Women’s World Cup trip
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has canceled his trip to Canada for the opening of the Women’s World Cup in the wake of an ongoing investigation into soccer corruption.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said Monday that ”due to the current situation,” Valcke will not attend this weekend’s opening game ”as previously scheduled.”
Fischer said ”it is important that he attend to matters at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.”
She added that FIFA President Sepp Blatter still intends to travel to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is hosted by the United States and Canada in July.
The New York Times reported Monday evening that federal investigators believe that Valcke made $10 million in bank transactions that are at the heart of the emerging FIFA scandal. That development would put Valcke, Sepp Blatter’s top lieutentant, at the center of the investigation — and possibly move the case far closer to Blatter himself.
Valcke, according to the Times, is the unidentified "high-ranking FIFA official" who transferred what has been characterized as a bribe from South Africa, from FIFA accounts to the indicted Jack Warner, formerly of CONCACAF. The indictment does not say Valcke knew the money was a bribe, nor was Valcke tabbed as a co-conspirator. South African World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan has also denied the payment was a bribe, but rather a legitimate transaction into the Caribbean soccer development fund.
Valcke apparently told the Times in an email that he neither authorized the payment, nor had the power to do so. He also stressed he has neither been accused of wrongdoing nor charged with a crime.
Earlier today, FIFA also confirmed that Blatter would attend both the Women’s World Cup final and the Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States.
The Women’s World Cup starts Saturday with Canada playing China in Edmonton.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.